“There is no question whatsoever that [blank] is seeking and is working and is advancing towards the development of nuclear weapons — no question whatsoever. And there is no question that once he acquires it, history shifts immediately.”
If you automatically substituted in Iran for the blank here, you certainly cannot be blamed. The “no question about it” confidence and overly alarmist tone that underpins this quote embodies much of the rhetoric proliferated today in regards to Iran’s nuclear program. Furthermore, this quote even comes from perhaps the biggest purveyor of portraying the Iranian nuclear program in such terms, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. However, this is not from a speech Netanyahu made in 2013, but from one in 2002, and the blank here is not Iran, but Saddam Hussein.
On this tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, it is apt to review the frighteningly numerous parallels between the run up to that war and the current standoff with Iran. As the above quote demonstrates, many of the same people who warned so insistently about the “threat” from Iraq ten years ago are now warning just as insistently about the “threat” from Iran. In Netanyahu’s case, he has frequently been caught repeating verbatim the same things he said about Iraq over a decade ago about Iran today.
Given this history of crying wolf, it would seem inconceivable that a huge burden of proof would not be placed on the people (mostly the same people) who now claim imminent peril from an allegedly illicit Iranian nuclear program. As the phrase famously misquoted by former President George W. Bush goes, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”
The sad truth is that we as society have allowed ourselves to be fooled again.
The tactics that were used against Iraq, of taking any lackluster claims based on flimsy or blatantly made-up intelligence and repeating them incessantly, are shamelessly being reused against Iran. The fact that there is no question among nuclear experts, objective analysts, and even U.S. and Israeli intelligence that Iran is not producing nuclear weapons is hardly ever alluded to. In fact, the mainstream media’s frequent parroting of claims made by government officials and blatantly one-sided analysts has been instrumental in setting a discourse on Iran that in many ways is fantasy. The default depiction of the Iranian nuclear program is not as a civilian program that does not even produce uranium at the levels and quantities that building a bomb would require (a thing which if it decided to do, would immediately become apparent to nuclear inspectors), but as a nuclear weapons program always a hair length away from making the bomb. Iran is already guilty, even though the proof suggests otherwise.
All of this misinformation constantly spread by various officials and news outlets has been enormously effective in shaping the public opinion on Iran. According to an April 2012 Washington Post-ABC News poll, 84 percent of Americans believe Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon. It is painfully evident that the failure of officials, media, and the public in the run up to the Iraq War is in many respects happening all over again with Iran.
Hans Blix, the former head of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) who led the UN weapons inspection team in Iraq from March 2000 to June 2003 has recently said, “Memories of the failure and tragic mistakes in Iraq are not taken sufficiently seriously. In the case of Iraq, there was an attempt made by some states to eradicate weapons of mass destruction that did not exist, and today there is talk of going [to] Iran to eradicate intentions that may not exist. I hope that will not happen.”
Iraq should serve as an example of the consequences of spinning up a fictional threat over non-existent weapons of mass destruction. However, not only is this by and large not happening, measures now being taken could very well bring about the unfathomable; the U.S. going to war with Iran.
A recent Senate resolution introduced by hawks Robert Menendez and Lindsey Graham says that if Israel “is compelled to take military action in self-defense, the United States government should stand with Israel and provide diplomatic, military and economic support to the government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people and existence.” Graham has mentioned that “self defense” in this case include preventive war based on Netanyahu’s redline of Iranian nuclear weapons capability, and not on the official U.S. policy of nuclear weapons possession. This bill will outsource the U.S. decision to go to war to Netanyahu, and, since it can be argued that Iran already had nuclear weapons capability, will essentially make war inevitable.
However, a further disturbing aspect of this bill is that it is co-sponsored by three senators who opposed the Iraq War. Needless to say it is unusual that these Senators, who at the time were wise enough to see through the baseless justifications to go to war with Iraq, are now supporting a resolution which would essentially create a “backdoor” to war with Iran. Perhaps this is a sign of just how dire the situation with Iran has become and how much closer we are to an all out Iraq type scenario unfolding that many think.

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